Racism In the Mainstream and How to Question It

People who have privately believed that white men should own the best things in America, and others are welcome only as subservient people, now have a spokesman in the White House. The social norm may be shifting. Do you have enforcers on your Facebook timeline?

Enforcing group beliefs

Last week, I reacted to the increased sniping I saw in the wake of the Congressional visit to the border camps and the tweet from the President that these members of Congress should “go back where they came from.”

I drew from a podcast for both of these blog entries. Today, I reiterate their suggestions on how to discuss racism in 2019. Here is the audio link. https://soundcloud.com/youarenotsosmart/157-pluralistic-ignorance You can jump into the “how to” part at 1:17:50.

Before this point in the broadcast, David McRaney has shown that high conformity (a tight group with strong opinions) will lead to more enforcement coming from within the group. Enforcement, used this way, is the shouting-down, threatening, or harming people who disagree with the belief. (Like what we saw at Trump rallies before the election).

In other words, where there is greater peer pressure, there can be extreme action on the part of people who ally with this group. This would include people willing to be violent towards others (or themselves) in order to prove loyalty to a group or its ideas. The behavior includes everything from insults on Facebook to suicide bombings.

What you can do to question group beliefs

No one is asking you to talk to a would-be suicide bomber. How do you talk to your cousin, or neighbor, or local store clerk, or the friend of a friend holding forth on your Facebook feed?

This is what David McRaney says:

  1. State the facts as you know them.
  2. Stick to your guns.
  3. Accept the right to express differences. Even if someone says something you strongly disagree with, allow them space to say it. Compliment them on their willingness to communicate.
  4. If you disagree with the group, but think you are in the minority. Here are tactics to test that assumption:
    1. Play “devil’s advocate”. Float the ideas that are different than the apparent group opinion. See if anyone else agrees with it, or part of it. “I’m playing devil’s advocate here, a lot of businesses hire immigrants because they do hard jobs like farm harvesting. What will happen if no immigrants are here to do that work?” (my example, not McRaney’s)
    2. Create a hypothetical person with a different belief: Ask your group to discuss the idea, as that person might see it. How did they come to that conclusion? Isn’t there logic to this part, or that part of their thinking? “What do you think of someone who thinks America should take people who are refugees from wars? We took a lot of German scientists, and they worked on the A-bomb for us.”

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